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Sobbing, Sinks, and Bingo



One morning I sat in the chair talking to my roomie after a phone conversation and I was crying a real water shed of tears. Roomie is so kind and relates to me. I feel a sisterhood with her and we prayed together. Just then a maintenance man came in because we had reported our sink was backed up again despite the work they had done twice already. He walked in the middle of my waterworks looking awkward and asked is everything ok. I quickly wiped my eyes and choked back a sob as Roomie blurted out,"the sink is backed up again." The guy's face was priceless and he hurriedly assured us that he would fix it right away! Roomie said that was a good thing too because it was upsetting to not be able to use the sink. The guy looked hopelessly at me and I said between blowing my nose,"ohh, I am not crying about the sink." The man kindly said not to worry, he would fix it this time, and quickly cloosed the bathroom door while apologizing it was going to be loud. Roomie and I exchanged looks and burst into laughter. She said he did not believe I was crying over something else! I said well perhaps my damsel in distress thing will finally get the sink fixed. In fact two hours later, and multiple interruptions including a cut on our warrior's finger, the sink was draining slowly but surely with running water. The guy was proud and I think pleased we had huge grins, even though they were not entirely because the sink was finally working.


The highlight of four days in my week is the infamous bingo game. The prizes are an assortment of snacks. This game brings out the best and worst in us. One day the activity director gave $5 prizes to two blackout winners. Whew, I thought there was going to be a wheelchair riot because they got snacks and money too. I only won popcorn that day and quietly left.


When I first started playing, I had a rush of beginner's luck. I had a stash of snacks for movie nights. None of my roommates has wanted to share my loot,so I have plenty of popcorn. But one man said he was not winning ever since that woman started playing. Happily later on when my luck ran thin, he invited me to sit next to him. Choosing snack prizes can make friends or enemies. I have traded things in order to keep the peace or make someone's day because I will not have two packages of tea wafers. And one must keep up with the game or be ridiculed. Some players are challenged either by hearing or seeing or just because. I once discovered I had blackout after someone else did and the numbers were checked. Usually with one leader, all winners get a prize, but not with that leader.Anyway I did not need another snack. I delighted in winning 9 times that day. I had plenty of loot.

That leader said the snack budget was reduced,so they had to cut down the winners per game. A few players threatened to quit but they did not. There are not many ways to get chocolate in here.


But some players need help. I helped this one woman sitting next to me and she said she felt so stupid when an outspoken jerk was saying no repeating and if you cannot keep up then do not play. I assured her that we all need help and we were all going to have fun. Then she won bingo twice in a row!

The jerk called out that it was not her bingo wins. Surprisingly the leader said that the lady would not have won without my help. I said that they were her cards,her wins.


I play bingo for vision therapy. Exercising my eyes to search for numbers on three different cards,and then placing a poker chip over the number. It is challenging because the numbers move and i must keep an eye out for a row under those conditions. No one around me knows what I go through to play bingo. Or even what it is like to walk down the hall to get there or sit in the room to play. It is tables set up near busy nursing station. People walking by me feel like they zoom and so I Feel like I may topple over. Looking out the glass doors gives me a feeling in the pit of my stomach like a roller coaster because of perspective. Background voices and noise makes it hard to distinguish the leader calling out the target. When she gets louder, it hurts,feels chaotic. I want to leave when she shouts. I want to leave when others are saying mean things. One lady kept telling one other lady that she should not play and that anyone in kindergarten can do bingo. Disgusted at the harsh bully remarks that the leader never interferes with, I stated flatly that there are lots of things I used to do in kindergarten that I can't do now. The lady next to me laughed and struggled to say " walk, run." We all laughed and got a list going. Swing,slide,ride trikes,coloring books and crayons, hide and seek,swimming. We celebrated the memory of things we can no longer do. We accepted ourselves and others in that moment it was ok to not be able. That poor bully was unable to grasp any of it and continued to say she could play bingo in kindergarten and so the other woman needed to leave. Just another game.


The cart of snack prizes sit out in front of all the residents sitting in front of the tv but not watching it. They cannot play bingo. But the tootsiepops entice them. They say lolliepop if they can or they wheel over to grab any snack. The leader tells them they must play bingo first to win them. If they carry on enough, leader gives them a sucker.


I wish they had a chess set here.

Everything is outside the pale of reality.


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Pam, don't know how you are managing, emotionally moving into somewhere suddenly like you have is like a death in the family, hard to get through, subject to lots of tears, feelings of drowning in sorrow etc.  All we can do is be here to support you so keep up the blogs and we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.


(((hugs))) from Sue.

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Thank you for listening. The healing power of being authentic.The amazing grace of being heard,understood,needed,cared for. Even more so the compassion of the unknown good Samaritan. To have received so much there is excess to share,give back. The rest,pride,arrogance,competing,all gone and replaced with concern for roommate or other voice crying out. No one really aware of this isolated world full of the raw stench of humanity,but overflowing with The best of us together.




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